RUSSIA - International financial service group Fortis will distribute corporate pension plans via large corporate clients throughout Russia through its new company Fortis Life Insurance Russia.

Fortis will target medium and large sized foreign but also local firms, focusing mainly on companies that are headquartered in Moscow, a spokesman for the firm said. "In principle, we will sell throughout the entire country," he added.

Fortis expects that more western insurers will come to Russia in the future as there are still many gaps in the market.  But the company sees both local and global players in Russia as "partners" rather then competitors  in  expanding the marketplace, a spokesman in the firm's Belgian office told IPE.

Maarten Pronk, who is  Fortis' country manager for Russia, said: "Fortis is one of the largest insurers in a number of European and Asian countries, and we hope to achieve the same position in Russia."

Besides corporate pension plans, the new operation will also offer education plans and family protection plans aimed at individual customers.

A team headed by Erhard Joerchel, chief executive of Fortis Life Insurance Russia, is already fully operational the firm announced. It will launch a marketing campaign in the next few weeks.